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Amash gets standing ovation, and resistance, during town hall

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) Holds Town Hall In Grand Rapids, Michigan
Rep. Justin Amash during town hall meeting on May 28, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Amash was the first Republican member of Congress to say President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct. Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Grand Rapids, Mich. -- The only Republican in Congress to accuse President Trump of impeachable conduct faced voters in his Michigan district Tuesday, receiving a standing ovation from many who saluted his "courage" while sparring with some former supporters who faulted him for embracing a Democratic "smear attack" against Mr. Trump.

During a two hour event that was originally scheduled to last one hour, fifth-term Rep. Justin Amash fielded more than two-dozen questions from an estimated crowd of 900 that packed a high school auditorium in Grand Rapids.

He said those who read special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Mr. Trump's conduct during and after the 2016 presidential election will be "appalled," and said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to hold the majority in the House of Representatives rather than upholding the law.

"We can't let conduct like that go unchecked," Amash said. "Congress has a duty to keep the president in check."

Asked by one questioner whether impeachment proceedings are worth the time since Mr. Trump is up for re-election next year, he said he is concerned the country has reached the point where impeachment may never be used in any circumstance.

"That is a greater risk than the risk that it will be used too often," he said, noting the high hurdles that exist before impeachment would lead to a president actually being removed from office. "It is more dangerous for our country to allow a president to mislead people, make things up."

Amash said Mueller determined that Mr. Trump asked former White House counsel Don McGahn to create a "false record."

"Things like that to me reflect incredible dishonesty and really harm the office of the presidency. I don't think that you can just let that stuff go. I think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct even if ultimately the person is not convicted."

Several people thanked Amash for his stance - drawing sustained applause that in one case became a standing ovation. CBS Kalamazoo, Michigan affiliate WWMT was there:

Even before the town hall began, some people made their feelings known outside the school:

Still, some in attendance told Amash he is in trouble politically and those praising him are Democrats who hate Mr. Trump. Two Republicans are running against Amash, who has not ruled out potentially running as a Libertarian for president.

"I've been your supporter since you started running for Congress, and I can't tell you how disappointed I am," said Diane Luke of Grand Rapids, who characterized Mueller's report and Democratic criticism of Mr. Trump as a "smear attack."

But another woman, Pamela Medford-Conley of Cedar Springs, said she read Mueller's report and agreed with Amash's assessment.

"If you actually read the whole thing, I don't know how you can come to different conclusions," she said after the town hall event. "Now whether or not we should actually impeach him, I don't know."

In one particularly testy exchange, Anna Timmer of Grand Rapids told Amash a lot of people cheering him on "most likely didn't vote for you." She said she made hundreds of calls on his behalf during his first congressional campaign, in 2010, and has voted for him every two years.

"I was there for you from the very beginning. I would like to say since that time, I have changed my position on you," Timmer said. "You have spent the last two years failing to do your job, which is to directly represent the popular will of your constituents."

Amash responded: "My job is to uphold the Constitution."

Timmer said there is no proof that Mr. Trump had a corrupt intent. Impeachment would "tear this country apart," she said. She accused Amash of political grandstanding to raise his profile nationally.

"You know you have no future in this district as a Republican," she said.

Another woman yelled: "This Republican still loves you Justin!"

Earlier, when a man asked if Amash is going too far to "fall on your sword to do what you believe is right," he said he is not worried about losing in 2020.

"I believe in the people I represent," he said. "I believe the people are smart enough to figure out what's going on. ... The president did much worse than I did in this district."

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